Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Belier Family (La Famille Belier)

'The Belier Family' lives in a semi rural area outside of Paris. The parents and son are deaf. Only the daughter is hearing and when she joins the school choir to be near a good looking schoolboy she discovers that she can sing well. The family is unaware of her singing talent.

This delightful journey of discovery for the daughter and her family is heartwarming and entertaining.


Friday, 5 February 2016

Qantas shame

I'm not in the habit of quoting commercial names in my post titles but have done so in this instance in the hope it may attract the company's attention and lead to some positive remedial action.

I am a life long traveller on our national carrier Qantas. I've remained loyal even in the face of criticism in recent years of its service, industrial relations practices, comparatively expensive fares and moves to off shore servicing of its fleet. I belong to its Frequent Flyer and Club Lounge groups paying handsomely for the dubious privileges that come with them.

I have more flights booked with Qantas in coming months.

Yesterday I received an email from Qantas notifying me that the details of one of these flights has been changed. The email asks me to ring on a priority number so that Qantas can explain these changes and confirm my new flight details. The email adds I can call at my earliest convenience 24 hours, 7 days a week.

I rang the priority number at 5.15pm yesterday and listened to recorded messages for one hour before giving up on the call. I can see that 5.15pm may be a busy time - business travellers and all that - so I decided I would try later.

I rang again at 9.30pm to be greeted by the message that the queue was 'more than one hour'. I gave up for the day.

This afternoon I tried ringing Qantas for a third time when I returned from work just after 3pm. Once again I was greeted with the message that the queue is 'more than one hour'. This is outrageous customer service. If this is the response on a priority line what service is being provided on a non-priority line?

As I key this post I have been in the queue for two hours and fifteen minutes! What makes the queueing even worse is that no indication is given whether you are moving forward in the queue. Maybe the call will never be answered. All you hear is the endless repetition of a loop of advertisements promoting the airline's service and products.

At the two hours and ten minutes mark I decided to use another phone to ring the general enquiry line for Frequent Flyer members and heard the message that the queue on that number was - you guessed it - more than one hour.

The call I was queued on was answered a short time later - an eventual wait of two hours and twenty minutes. The operator who handled the call was very polite and without prompting said they would welcome feedback. Reading between the lines (to mix metaphors) I think her comment was a silent plea to please report the unacceptable delays.

I am doing so here, publicly and will follow up with private correspondence.

Shame, Qantas, shame.

Thursday, 4 February 2016


'Spotlight' depicts the work done by a specialist team in the Boston Globe newspaper to research and report on what the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in their city knew about abuse of children by their clergy and how they dealt with what they knew.

The film does not sensationalise events, reporting what transpired in measured tones. The focus is not the abuse but questions of who knew and what was or was not done in the face of it.

A fine film.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Sound of Music

Surely no one needs me to provide a precis of 'The Sound of Music'; one of the most famous of musical show of all time. The musical is on its third major Australian season since its original staging  here in 1961. That was the first and until last week only, time I had seen the musical live on stage.

My memories of the musical are mostly from numerous complete and partial viewings of the film version.

I can report that this current Australian staging meets all expectations. Wonderful if you love the musical and, I guess, sickly sweet if you abhor it.

I loved it. The children are excellent and comparative newcomer Amy Lehpamer is stellar as Maria.


Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Fantasticks

'The Fantasticks' has the reputation of having the longest continuous run of any entertainment in the United States. The stage musical played off Broadway for 42 years. Then after a break of only 4 years the play was revived and the revival has now played for about ten years.

This peculiar, almost supernatural, success was not replicated elsewhere. The film version was not released initially and in Britain, two separate theatrical seasons flopped badly.

We were curious to see the work in its recent Sydney season.

The subject of the play is a twist on Romeo and Juliet. Neighbours stage a feud in the hope their respective son and daughter will be attracted to each other - to spite their fathers - and marry.

The play shows its age. The musical numbers are tuneful and the cast made the best of it but the work  really is little more than a curiosity nowadays.